January 23, 2012

Youngest homeowners least satisfied with homeownership


If you're a dissatisfied homeowner, chances are you're young.

That's the takeaway from real estate search site HomeGain's latest survey, which asked Americans whether they were happy with homeownership.

Least happy are homeowners in the 18-to-25 crowd. That's the only age group where more than half (55 percent) said they're not satisfied with homeownership. The share of satisfied homeowners goes up from there almost in lockstep with age. (Slightly more 26-to-35-year-olds are satisfied than 36-to-45-year-olds, though it rounds to two-thirds in each case.)

Those most likely to be satisfied are 55-plus, people who are also the most likely to have lived in their homes the longest and -- assuming they didn't pull a lot of equity out during the bubble years -- to owe little or nothing on a mortgage. So it makes sense, just as it's understandable that young homeowners who have seen nothing but depreciation aren't wild about the idea.

But here's something surprising:

Continue reading "Youngest homeowners least satisfied with homeownership" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Housing stats, Survey says ...

January 12, 2012

When will home prices return to bubble-era levels?

Moody's Analytics is predicting that home prices in the Baltimore region will climb back to previous peaks in five or six years. Do you think that's likely? What's your own personal prediction?

It's easier, of course, to take a stab at what will happen within the current year. But you'll find plenty of varying forecasts. 

Forty-five percent of the nearly 200 readers who took last week's poll think home values near them will fall in the next six months, 41 percent think values will be unchanged and 14 percent think values will rise. Pretty similar to the results of a HomeGain poll of Maryland homeowners, as it happens.

And that's it for me today -- lousy cold. Hope you're feeling well, and feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Housing forecasts, Survey says ...

January 5, 2012

Survey: Md. homeowners split on where values will go in 6 months

Forty-three percent of Maryland homeowners surveyed by a real estate search site think home values will drop in the next six months, about the same as the number who believe values will remain the same -- which leaves 15 percent who think (hope?) that values will rise.

That's according to HomeGain, which surveys homeowners and real estate agents every quarter to see what they think.

Maryland agents were less optimistic, with 53 percent predicting value drops in the next six months.

HomeGain said it surveyed 2,000 homeowners and more than 400 people in the real estate biz nationwide, so the Maryland sample was considerably smaller than that.

So: What's your prediction?

Answer order is randomized, in case you're wondering.

Regardless of what you think will happen, what are you hoping to see? Some of you, I know, are rooting for prices to fall and thus be more affordable. Others are hoping prices will rise to the point that their mortgages aren't underwater.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Survey says ...

December 21, 2011

Most say 'good time to buy,' few say 'good time to sell'

Most Americans surveyed by the group that provides the data for a widely tracked measure of consumer confidence say it's a good time to buy a home -- but not a good time to sell one.

This will probably not come as a shock.

Interestingly, though, renters are less bullish about buying than homeowners, who generally would have to sell in order to purchase.

That's according to a study for the Mortgage Bankers Association and its Research Institute for Housing America. The report looked at years of results from the University of Michigan's Survey of Consumer Attitudes.

Fewer than 65 percent of renters thought it was a good time to buy as of the beginning of this year, compared with about 80 percent of homeowners. 

"For homeowners, sentiment in 2011 is at a level similar to the average over the last twenty years," notes author Gary V. Engelhardt of Syracuse University. "For renters, sentiment is somewhat lower now than the past average."

Sentiment about selling is -- naturally -- far more negative than average.

Continue reading "Most say 'good time to buy,' few say 'good time to sell'" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Survey says ...

November 9, 2011

Over-optimistic homebuyers

How much do you think home prices rise in a typical year? Four out of every 10 prospective home buyers surveyed by real estate search site Zillow say "seven percent," which -- Zillow says -- is way out of sync with reality despite all the dour news about housing the last several years.

Housing bubbles and busts aside, home prices usually increase two to five percent a year, Zillow says. The company points to Yale economist Robert J. Shiller's index of housing prices from 1890 onward, which adjusts for inflation and shows a lot of up-and-down movement.

"It's troubling that we're still in the midst of one of the worst housing recessions in history, and yet prospective buyers continue to have such high expectations for home value appreciation," Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, said in a statement. He added: "Over-estimation of the appreciation potential will lead many to buy real estate when the time in which they plan to live in the house may make renting a better strategy."

Continue reading "Over-optimistic homebuyers" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Housing stats, Survey says ...

October 5, 2011

Survey: About one in three have just a month (or less) of savings for housing costs

Here's a sobering statistic: Nearly a third of Americans surveyed in September said they would at most be able to pay their rent or mortgage for a single month if they lost their job.

The survey of 1,021 adults was conducted for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Financial Planning Association, Foundation for Financial Planning and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which together are trying to promote better financial planning. (Free financial-planning events have been scheduled across the country, including in Baltimore.) 

I've often heard six months suggested for emergency savings -- to have enough money socked away to cover expenses for that long.

Considering the way a stretch of unemployment can last these days, more would be even better. (About 58,000 Marylanders have been out of work so long -- more than 18 months -- that they could be eligible for newly extended unemployment benefits.)

A survey released in June by had fairly similar findings in terms of savings: Twenty-four percent said they had no emergency savings and an additional 22 percent said their savings added up to less than three months of expenses.

Continue reading "Survey: About one in three have just a month (or less) of savings for housing costs" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Survey says ...

December 20, 2010

Americans aren't expecting a quick housing-market turnaround

Nearly 60 percent of Americans think the housing market won't recover until after 2012, according to a recent survey by real estate site and foreclosure-tracking site RealtyTrac. More than 20 percent are especially bearish, expecting no turnaround until 2015 or later.

Predicting the market is a tricky thing, as I was reminded when I took a walk down forecast memory lane for this post. For instance:

In January 2008, economist Lawrence Yun with the National Association of Realtors predicted while he was in town that the local market had bottomed. "Ten years from now, people will look back at 2008 and say, 'Wow, that was a great time to become a homeowner," he said. (Instead, 2008 was the year of the financial meltdown.)

In May of that year, the managing partner of hedge fund Traxis Partners declared in a Wall Street Journal piece that the worst was over for the U.S. housing market. (Nope.)

Fannie Mae's chief executive said around the same time that his best guess at when things would start improving was 2010. (Home sales and prices were on the upswing in many places early in the year, but once the homebuyer tax credit expired, that trend reversed.)

The company that spun off CoreLogic predicted in 2009 that home prices in Maryland would be 4 percent higher in October 2010 than they were a year earlier. (Instead, they fell.)

That's just a small sampling of the too-optimistic forecasts, of course. (And they're not limited to words. Here's a visual!) The pessimists have the advantage here -- it'll be a while yet before we'll know if the most bearish of bears are just as far off the mark.

But why let that stop you from joining in on the forecasting fun? Weigh in:

Continue reading "Americans aren't expecting a quick housing-market turnaround" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Housing forecasts, Polls, Survey says ...

September 21, 2010

Homeowners more optimistic about their values than agents

Think your home's value rose or at least stayed even in the last year? You have that in common with nearly 40 percent of Marylanders polled by HomeGain.

Less than 25 percent of the Maryland real estate agents the site surveyed, however, said the same of their clients' home values.

Agents surveyed by HomeGain were also more pessimistic about where the market is headed. Forty percent expect prices will fall over the next six months, compared with 28 percent of homeowners. 

Agents have complained pretty much from the start of the housing bust that sellers aren't realistic about their property values, though that doesn't apply to everyone. Some homeowners pick asking prices that get them contracts toot sweet, while others languish on the market for months -- even years -- with no offers.

Continue reading "Homeowners more optimistic about their values than agents" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: For sale, Housing stats, Survey says ...

December 5, 2009

New year's home-related resolutions

Do you have a 2010 plan to buy a home or improve the one you have? A survey released this week by, part of a family of real estate sites that includes, suggests that many do.

The survey says almost 18 percent of Americans "want to take the plunge and finally become first-time home buyers." Sixteen percent told pollsters that their priority resolution for next year is buying an investment property. And more than one in three said their top resolution is home improvement.

I'm in the home-improvement-resolution group. What about you?

I felt my eyebrows raise at the thought that 18 percent of Americans want to buy next year for the first time. That's more than half of all adults who don't currently own a home, let alone those who have never owned one. As of last summer, the homeownership rate was just under 68 percent.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:24 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Survey says ...

October 23, 2009

Survey results: Recommending where you live, or not

I recently put several questions to you that were part of a survey of Baltimore residents -- bottom-line sorts of queries about whether you like your neighborhood and jurisdiction enough to recommend it to others. Almost 70 of you weighed in. Mostly city residents, as it happens -- so much for comparing and contrasting across the region!

Eight Baltimore County residents took part, which I decided is just enough to make a comparison not completely ridiculous. (Hey, a scientific survey this isn't.) Here are the results for the city and county:

How likely are you to ...

Recommend living in your neighborhood to friends?

Among city residents, 84 percent said "likely" or "very likely." Sixty-three percent of county residents said the same; the remainder opted for "not likely" or "not at all likely."

Recommend living in your jurisdiction to friends?

Continue reading "Survey results: Recommending where you live, or not" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Survey says ...

October 17, 2009

How do you like your neighborhood?

Baltimore surveyed residents to see what they think about safety, taxes, cleanliness and the like in their neighborhoods and the city overall. Annie Linskey wrote a story about the "sometimes-contradictory" results:

Baltimore is a dirty city with few good jobs. But it's also a green city whose residents love their neighborhoods, public parks and libraries. Their biggest worry is crime, but they consider their own blocks quite safe.

One part of the survey asked for bottom-line reactions: How likely are you to recommend living in your neighborhood to friends, recommend living in Baltimore, recommend buying a home there? Would you recommend the city as a place to raise children or to retire? And how likely are you to move out of the city in the next one to three years?

Good questions. I'm interested in how you would answer them about your neighborhood and jurisdiction, whether you live in the city or somewhere else. So: survey time!

Continue reading "How do you like your neighborhood?" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Survey says ...

September 26, 2009

Your take on supply vs. demand

Most of you think buyers have the upper hand in this housing market. Just not tremendously so.

Just under two-thirds of you obliging folks who took the first-ever Wonk survey this week say the supply vs. demand situation is tipped in favor of buyers. Many think it's "somewhat" so. Less than a quarter of everyone surveyed opted for "heavily" in buyers' favor.

This doesn't mean the rest say sellers have it easy. Just 9 percent think the market is tipped in favor of sellers (and half of those folks say only "somewhat" so).

Fourteen percent believe the market is basically balanced between buyers and sellers. 

And another 14 percent aren't sure.

In case you're wondering, 44 people took the survey. Thanks, guys!

And because it's a survey rather than a poll, we don't have to guess how homeowners and renters weighed in, or wonder whether the people who say it's a sellers market are sellers or buyers. This is the breakdown:

Continue reading "Your take on supply vs. demand" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Survey says ...

September 20, 2009

Supply vs. demand in your neck of the woods

We've been chatting recently about supply vs. demand -- homes listed for sale in various price ranges compared with sales in those ranges. Some of you buyers shared your experiences, which is always interesting. I'd like to hear more about what you're seeing, whether you're a buyer, seller or observer, and I've made it easy for you to share.

Not a poll this Sunday. A quick check-the-box survey with four questions.

Go on, try it out! First Wonk survey ever! (Note to the unlucky few of you with insanely restrictive work computer settings: It's powered by Google Docs.)

Continue reading "Supply vs. demand in your neck of the woods" »

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Survey says ...

August 18, 2009

Homeowners on their home values

Most homeowners think their homes are worth less now than a year ago, but only one in five is expecting more drops in value here on out.

That's what people told real estate site Zillow in a July poll released today. The company's take on the results? "Hope springs eternal."

The Northeast, which includes Maryland in this survey, is more optimistic than average. Seventeen percent of homeowners polled expect their homes will drop in value in the next six months, compared with 19 percent nationwide. Thirty-eight percent of Northeasterners think their home values will rise.

(Midwesterners were the most pessimistic in this survey. But still, three in four are counting on stable or rising values for their own homes.) 

In a press release, Zillow suggested that it thinks homeowners are being a bit too rosy. Here's a statement from Zillow's chief economist, Stan Humphries:

“While their perceptions of past declines in their homes’ values have gotten more realistic over the past year, each quarter homeowners express the opinion that the worst is behind them. Unfortunately, that has not been the case thus far and it’s far from clear that it’s the case today. Despite some signs of slowing depreciation in many markets in the second quarter – the height of the 2009 home-buying season – there are many market fundamentals that will challenge home prices in the near-term: high for-sale inventory levels, foreclosures, negative equity, and price-to-rent ratios that still aren’t back to historical levels yet.”

On the Zillow blog, the company's vice president of communications wonders: "Are homeowners on to something the numbers aren’t showing? Or is this simply a coping strategy after many months of watching equity shrink away?"

The Zillow poll also asked if people thought their homes had lost value in the last year. Among Northeastern residents polled, 56 percent said yes. Zillow estimates that values actually dropped for 77 percent in the region. 

If you're chomping at the bit for the margin of error, I'm afraid I have to disappoint: Zillow said the poll, conducted online by Harris Interactive, "is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated."

Say -- let's do a real quick poll of our own:

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Survey says ...

July 4, 2009

Tougher times for renters, landlords

We all hear that layoffs and salary reductions are bad for homeowners and will probably keep foreclosure numbers from dropping anytime soon. But the cuts aren't good for renters, either. And what's not good for renters -- in this case -- is bad news for landlords.

Half of U.S. property managers are having more trouble filling their units with "qualified renters," according to a new TransUnion survey. Eight out of 10 say they're worried about how the rest of the year will go. (TransUnion, a credit-information company that sells renter-screening services, said it surveyed more than 870 property managers last month.)

But what about the people who got foreclosed on? Aren't they in need of a place to rent? As it happens, only half the surveyed property managers reported an increase over last year in applicants leaving foreclosed properties. TransUnion speculates that "many consumers coming from these circumstances are moving in with family members or friends to share expenses."

Local landlords, how are things going for you? (Come on, now. I know some of you are reading. Well -- maybe not on the Fourth of July, but I'll wait.)

Renters, have you needed to make a change -- moving to a cheaper apartment, bringing in a roommate, going back to live with parents -- to deal with tighter finances? (Or are things going so well that you're moving to a nicer place?)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Landlording, Renting, Survey says ...

May 18, 2009

HomeGain survey: Agents opine on local prices

Zillow asked homeowners to weigh in on their property values, as I noted last week. A new survey from real estate site HomeGain gets Realtors' opinions about prices.

You can find the national results here. HomeGain provided me with Maryland data, which suggests that opinions about home values are continuing to split down the middle -- sellers on one side, buyers on the other. (Of the 1,150 agents surveyed nationally, 26 were from Maryland.)

Eight in 10 Maryland Realtors polled say their homeowner clients lost value in the last year, but those clients are more optimistic about prices than the agents. Two-thirds of Realtors surveyed say the average client thinks his home is worth more than the recommended listing price. (A sizable number of agents report that the average client believes his home is worth 10 to 20 percent more.)

Two-thirds of agents say their buyer clients, meanwhile, think listing prices are too high. The most popular choice -- chosen by 45 percent of those surveyed -- is "overpriced by less than 10 percent."

That split is after a number of agents have convinced sellers to list at a price that's lower than what the owners thought their homes were worth.

Strip away all the economic issues -- income vs. prices, recession, credit crunch -- and this difference of opinion between would-be buyers and sellers seems a key explanation for why the number of Maryland home sales is still dropping.

The Maryland agents surveyed by HomeGain were themselves split on what will happen to home values in the next six months. Almost four in 10 expect decreases. Just over four in 10 expect no change. And the rest -- 18 percent -- expect increases.

As for President Obama's stimulus efforts, half of the surveyed Realtors think they've had no effect on home prices. Thirty-four percent believe they've stabilized prices, 13 percent believe they've decreased prices and just 3 percent think they've increased prices.

The poll that went live on this blog over the weekend -- still going, vote now! -- is modeled after HomeGain's question about how buyers view listing prices. Once our poll has been up for a week, I'll show how the results compare.

Here, of course, polltakers are a varied bunch -- buyers, sellers and people (renters and homeowners) who aren't going anywhere. So far, nobody thinks asking prices are low. Even the sellers.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 9:10 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Survey says ...

May 14, 2009

The optimism of homeowners

A majority of homeowners say their properties are worth less than they were a year ago, but they believe that slump is all over now, according to a Zillow poll out today. Nearly three-quarters don't expect a decline in the next six months. In fact, 27 percent are counting on an increase.

Zillow says it found a significant amount of "shadow inventory" waiting in the wings -- homes that people want to sell but haven't marketed yet. Almost one in three homeowners polled said "they would be at least 'somewhat likely' to put their homes on the market in the next 12 months if they saw signs of a real estate market turnaround," according to the poll.

Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice president of data and analytics, had this to say in a press release:

While homeowners are now more realistic when looking backward, they are still pretty starry-eyed when looking forward with three out of four homeowners believing that their own homes' prices will increase or be flat over the next six months. Unfortunately, there are few markets we expect to perform this well. ...

With almost a third of homeowners poised to jump into the market at the first sign of stabilization, this could create a steady stream of new inventory adding to already record-high inventory levels, thus keeping downward pressure on home prices.

The Northeast, which includes Maryland in this poll, was the most optimistic. It was the only region with less than a quarter of polled homeowners expecting continued declines in value.

Zillow said its poll was conducted online by Harris Interactive last month, with about 2,100 adults participating. Wonks eager to know the margin of error will be disappointed: "This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated," the company says in its press release.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 10:13 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Survey says ...
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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
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